LUXOR/VIENNA, 11 December 2010 - Human trafficking is a US$ 32 billion a year global enterprise; a shameful and immoral operation providing modern-day slave traders with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of commodities to be re-sold over and over. Around 2.4 million people are presently enslaved in forced labour across the world and human trafficking has become one of today's top crimes and a major social concern of the 21 st century.
From 10 - 12 December 2010, policy makers, civil society and business leaders from around the world are meeting in Luxor for the 'End Human Trafficking Now: Enforcing the UN Protocol Luxor International Forum'. Organized by the End Human Trafficking Now! Campaign (EHTN!) and the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), the meeting will be attended by Hollywood stars and international personalities, such as Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Mira Sorvino, CNN Anchor Jim Clancy and artist Ann Carrington.
At the forum, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov whose agency is a member of UN.GIFT urged for action from business: "The private sector has so much to offer in terms of resources, knowledge and influence to combat human trafficking. Raising awareness both within the workforce and the general community on trafficking is critical, and businesses have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that all aspects of their operations are "traffic-free" - from employees, to suppliers, to partners".
One avenue through which businesses can become more involved is through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking. Launched by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York in November, the Trust Fund is seen as a critical move to provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to human trafficking victims.
Addressing participants at the Forum, Mr Fedotov said; "I implore businesses, civil society and each and every person to pledge their support for the Trust Fund. The special role that the business community can play in the Fund is one where I would particularly like to hear your views. 'Have a heart' for victims of human trafficking and help us protect the victims of this crime".
One component of the Luxor meeting will be the inaugural presentation of the 'Business Leaders Award Against Human Trafficking' which aims to recognize and commend businesses at the fore of the fight against human trafficking. Presented by EHTN!, UN.GIFT and the United Nations Global Compact, the award will be announced on 12 December and will honour those business executives who have shown energy and commitment in tackling human trafficking.
There are also several good examples of how the private sector themselves are shifting their approach to business. In South Asia, The Body Shop in India launched a national campaign in August 2010 asking people to sign a petition calling for the ratification of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, the introduction of classes on child trafficking in schools, and the establishment of shelters for child victims of trafficking. In September 2010, nearly 250 members of India's tourism industry adopted the 'Code of Conduct for Safe and Honorable Tourism', a groundbreaking UNODC/UN.GIFT initiative in the context of the country's position as an origin, transit and destination country for trafficking victims. Widening the reach of teaching the private sector about human trafficking, Microsoft has joined UN.GIFT and EHTN! in the development and sponsoring of a trafficking-focussed e-learning course which will be launched in Luxor on 12 December. As a training programme for the private sector, the course aims to better the understanding around the concept of human trafficking.
UNODC is at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking and is the guardian of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, the first truly internationally agreed-upon approach toward fighting criminals involved in human trafficking and protecting their victims. UNODC is working extensively with authorities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in combating human trafficking. In March 2010 the 'Arab Initiative to Combat Human Trafficking' was launched during the Doha Foundation Forum between the Qatar Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking (QFCHT), the League of Arab States and UNODC. The Initiative, which aims to build national capacity to fight trafficking amongst the 22 Arab League States, will be supplemented in 2011 with the roll-out of a 3-year, US$ 1 million, Norwegian-funded regional project on this issue.
Background - UN.GIFT
The Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) is a multi-stakeholder initiative providing global access to expertise, knowledge and innovative partnerships to combat human trafficking. This is done by supporting State and non-state actors with capacity development activities focusing on prevention, protection and prosecution so that they can better respond to the human trafficking challenge. UN.GIFT was launched in March 2007 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
For further information please contact:
Khawla Mattar, Director: UN Information Centre (Cairo)
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Siria Gastelum Felix, UN.GIFT
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Kevin Town, UNODC
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